Hailey Hudson

Author: Medical reviewer:

December 23, 2022

Hailey Hudson

Contributor

By Hailey Hudson

Contributor

Hailey Hudson is a freelance writer and content marketer whose work has appeared in outlets like Healthline and Runner’s World.

Scott Nass, M.D., MPA, FAAFP, AAHIVS

Medical review by

Scott Nass, M.D., MPA, FAAFP, AAHIVS

Board-certified Family Physician

Scott Nass, M.D., MPA, FAAFP, AAHIVS is a family physician and HIV specialist in California. He takes a holistic approach to healthcare, incorporating principles of functional medicine and using food as medicine when working with patients.

person on avocado mattress on background with closeup of mattress

December 23, 2022

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Quality sleep is crucial to keep your physical, mental, and emotional health where they need to be. If your sleep is consistently disrupted for long periods of time, studies show that you could be putting yourself at risk of serious health consequences1. Especially for those with back pain, quality sleep is easier dreamt than done—and, while there are many things you can do to improve your nightly wind down, the best mattress toppers for back pain are an easy and affordable way to upgrade your sleep.

People who have chronic lower back pain experience higher rates of sleep disturbances than people who don’t. And if your mattress is too soft, it likely isn’t helping the problem. Designed to lie on top of your existing mattress, a mattress topper provides greater comfort, pressure relief, and support—all without having to fork over the funds for a whole new mattress.

To learn more about how a mattress topper can help with back pain, we spoke with experts and scoured the selection. Below find our picks for the best mattress toppers for back pain, along with expert advice on how to choose which one is right for you.

The best mattress toppers for back pain:

How can a mattress topper help with back pain?

“A mattress topper can help to improve low back pain in three ways,” explains licensed physical therapist Anthony Maritato, PT. First, he says that a good mattress topper can provide pressure relief or increased support to the areas where you need it.

“Next it can help influence the body’s temperature. Some people with back pain respond positively to a cooler environment, while others respond positively to warmer environments. A mattress topper with temperature regulation can help these individuals sleep better and wake with less pain.”

Finally, a mattress topper lets you test different firmness options before purchasing a different mattress. “Mattresses are expensive. As a physical therapist who is always asked for an opinion on which is the best mattress to purchase, I can only say you don’t know until you try it. A mattress topper can change the firmness of a mattress to be more firm or more soft without forcing you to buy a new mattress.”

How we picked:

Quality is always top of mind when testing, researching, and selecting products. We looked for the highest quality items (with sustainability in mind whenever possible) while still providing options for a range of budgets.

As our expert advises, sometimes you don’t know what firmness level of mattress or topper is right for you until you give it a try. That’s why we tried to choose mattress toppers that offer a healthy trial period.

Sometimes, putting on a mattress topper can feel like putting on a fitted sheet—in other words, it’s a workout. We looked for toppers that fit any mattress and have features to help them stay snug.

We read through reviews to see what a wide range of customers really thought about our top mattress topper picks. We used this feedback to inform our final selections, keeping in mind both the good and the bad reviews for each.

Our picks for the best mattress toppers for back pain:

Best cooling: TEMPUR-Adapt® Topper

Pros:

  • 3 inches thick
  • Pressure-relieving
  • Optional cooling upgrade

Cons:

  • Not great for stomach sleepers

Materials: TEMPUR® Material

Firmness: Firm

Sizes Available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King

Trial: 90 days

Warranty: 10-year

Tempur-pedic is well-known for its proprietary TEMPUR® material, which is made from millions of moveable cells and engineered to respond to each individual sleeper’s unique shape, weight, and body temperature. While these materials are not the most sustainable, sleepers who want personalized comfort will enjoy this topper.

On the higher end of the firmness scale, this mattress topper delivers optimum spinal alignment and pressure relief. Corner straps help the topper stay tight across your mattress, and the cover (which is dust mite- and allergen-resistant) can be removed and machine-washed in cold water. For an additional $80, you can add the brand’s cooling technology to the cover, which hot sleepers tend to love.

This topper is shipped to your door in a box. While there may be a slight off-gassing odor, reviews say it won’t last more than one to two weeks. The mattress topper has a 5-star overall rating on the brand’s website, with one person writing, “My husband and I both suffer from severe back pain. This topper on our mattress has made such a difference in our quality of sleep.”

Best budget: Brooklyn Bedding Gel Swirl Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Pros:

  • Cooling
  • Good for side and back sleepers

Cons:

  • Some customers find it too firm

Materials: Memory foam

Firmness: Ultra-push

Sizes Available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King

Trial: 30 nights

Warranty: 3-year

If you’re not prepared to spend hundreds of dollars, try the Brooklyn Bedding Gel Swirl Memory Foam Mattress Topper, which rings up at under $100 for a twin size topper—a price point that’s considerably less expensive than most other options on the market. It does not have a cover, but there are multiple heights to choose from (2- or 3-inch).

This is not the most sustainable option, as it’s made from memory foam—but for those who prefer the foam feel, it is a good choice at an affordable price. Memory foam contours well to your body, offering pressure relief that can help with back pain. The foam is infused with a cooling gel, which hot sleepers will enjoy.

The topper arrives in a box, and any off-gassing odor should dissipate within 24 hours.

With a 4.3 star rating overall, this mattress has many positive reviews. Most comment on how comfortable it is, the good night’s sleep they get with it, and of course, how affordable the topper is.

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Best latex: Avocado Organic Latex Mattress Topper

Pros:

  • GOLS organic certified
  • Made in the U.S.
  • Natural organic latex

Cons:

  • Sizing is slightly smaller than standard mattresses

Materials: Natural latex

Firmness: FirmPlush

Sizes Available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King

Trial: 365 nights

Warranty: 10-year

Avocado makes natural and sustainably-focused products—many of which have been selected on previous mindbodygreen roundups. The brand harvests latex and wool from its own farms, so you know exactly where your mattress is coming from. The natural latex material of this topper offers both support and cushioning to relieve joint and back pain. To top it off, the organic wool cover is lightweight, breathable, and cooling.

This mattress topper will contour to your body’s natural curves to add extra cushioning and create a luxurious feel. The latex not only helps with pain relief, but it’s also resilient, durable, and temperature-regulating.

The Avocado topper ships via FedEx and because of the natural materials, there won’t be any off-gassing odor. You may smell the latex scent, but it is not noticeable through sheets and bedding.

Currently, the topper has an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on the brand’s website. “After sending back three other toppers, this Avocado Green is a keeper,” one buyer commented. “I’ve been sleeping well—finally no back pain. Definitely recommend.”

Best for lower back and hip pain: Plushbeds 100% Natural Latex Topper

Pros:

  • 100% natural latex
  • Cooling

Cons:

  • Not returnable
  • Delivery can be a hassle

Materials: 100% natural Talalay latex

Firmness: MediumSoftMedium softMedium firmExtra firm

Sizes Available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King

Trial: None

Warranty: 5-year

Made from high-quality 100% natural latex, this topper also has an optional organic cotton cover (which you can add for an additional $93). While most latex is buoyant and responsive—so you sit above it rather than sinking into it—Plushbed’s repurposes the material into a more flexible, perforated layer that’s optimized for pressure point relief. Of course, the topper still gives your body the support it needs to help alleviate lower back and joint pain.

This topper is also great for people who have allergies. The latex is odor-free, anti-microbial, and resists dust mites and mildew. The only downside? Plushbeds does not offer any trial period and you cannot return the topper.

The natural latex topper will arrive in a box, and does not have any off-gassing smells. There are a ton of rave reviews on the brand’s website, granting this topper a 4.9 out of 5-star rating overall. One shopper who says they have struggled with back pain for years writes that “this topper was the perfect solution.” The same person writes, “In one night—literally, in one night!—it changed my life.”

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Best for side sleepers: Puffy Mattress Topper

Pros:

  • Cooling
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Fits on mattresses up to 15” thick

Cons:

  • Not recommended for heavier stomach sleepers

Materials: 40% bamboo60% polyester

Firmness: Soft

Sizes Available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King

Trial: 101 nights

Warranty: Lifetime

If you sleep on your side, this bamboo and polyester mattress topper is ideal. Side sleepers need extra contouring and cushioning—and that’s exactly what this pick provides. It’s more affordable than luxury options but very well-made with quality materials.

The mattress topper is hypoallergenic, highly breathable, and cool to the touch. The grip layer helps your mattress and topper stay aligned, so you don’t have to worry about the topper sliding around on top of your bed.

The Puffy topper arrives in a box, and off-gassing takes about 12 hours. It has a five-star rating overall (which does make us raise an eyebrow), and comes highly recommended by both side sleepers and back pain. One person writes, “I laid down my Puffy Topper over my new mattress and I am so pleased. It’s like sleeping on a luxury hotel bed now! I have back, hip, and knee pain and this is a wonderful topper. The Puffy topper is better than the others I have tried because it brings that added three inches of softness to cushion this side sleeper.”

Best customization: Nolah Mattress Topper

Pros:

  • Two firmness options
  • Cooling
  • Pressure-relieving

Materials: AirFoam™️

Firmness: PlushLuxury firm

Sizes Available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King

Trial: 30 nights

Warranty: 10-year

The mattress topper is made of CertiPUR-US® certified AirFoam™️, Nolah’s original material that the brand says relieves pressure four times better than memory foam. You can choose from two firmness options (plush and luxury foam) based on your preferences. This topper is a great choice for those who sleep hot, thanks to its cooling cover.

Offering dual comfort and support, this topper takes stress off your joints and pressure points. It also promotes proper spinal alignment, which can improve back pain.

The mattress topper ships for free and does not emit any smells upon arrival. Its current rating on the Nolah website is 4.9 stars. One reviewer says, “I love my mattress topper! It’s the perfect combination of cushiony comfort and support. It gives me the pressure point relief I need…and I don’t wake up in pain anymore.”

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Best organic: Silk & Snow Organic Mattress Topper

Pros:

  • Firm enough for stomach sleepers
  • Great for couples
  • Naturally cooling

Materials: 100% GOTS certified organic cotton100% GOLS certified Dunlop organic latex

Firmness: FirmMedium

Sizes Available: TwinTwin XLFullQueenKingCalifornia King

Trial: 100 nights

Warranty: 15-year

Silk & Snow’s Organic Mattress Topper is GOTS- and GOLS-certified, and made from 95% organic latex and organic cotton. Choose from two firmness levels (medium or firm), depending on your sleep style and preferences. Latex is naturally cooling and highly durable. The cover on the topper is easy to remove and can be machine-washed. What’s more, the brand offers a 15-year warranty to protect your purchase.

Both the medium and firm options are great for back or stomach sleepers, and the material is pressure-relieving—great news for those who suffer from back pain.

This topper arrives in a box and, thanks to its natural materials, has no off-gassing odor. According to customers, the firmness level is just right. “After a few days, we started to see a difference in sleeping. Less and less back pain. We are very satisfied with the topper,” reads one review.

How to choose a mattress topper for back pain.

According to Maritato, causes of back pain can range from lumbar spinal stenosis to disc bulges and more. Gaining an understanding of your back pain can serve as a helpful guide as you look for the best mattress topper for you. For example, is your pain localized in a specific area? How severe is it? Does it come and go, or is it steady all night every night? The answers to these questions should all inform your decision.

We also recommend carefully considering which material meets your needs and preferences. Mattress toppers are made from materials such as:

  • Cotton
  • Latex
  • Memory foam
  • Bamboo
  • Polyester

Natural latex is, of course, the more eco-friendly option and helps promote proper spinal alignment and relieve back pain. Memory foam is good for contouring and cushioning, offering plenty of pressure relief.

Maritato says the position in which you sleep also makes a difference in the best mattress topper for back pain. “For a person with spinal stenosis who is also a side or back sleeper, a memory foam mattress top might be the perfect solution for a more comfortable sleep experience. Belly sleepers with back pain would benefit from a latex mattress topper [to] provide support to the pelvis and trunk. If the pain is localized to the neck, goose and duck feathers are the best choice.”

FAQ

What thickness of mattress topper is best for back pain?

For back pain, look for a mattress topper that’s on the thicker side, about 3 to 4 inches rather than 1 to 2 inches.

What kind of mattress topper do I need for back pain?

Mattress toppers that are medium-firm, a few inches thick, or made of a material like natural latex can help alleviate back pain.

Can a mattress topper improve back pain?

Yes. A good mattress topper can alter the firmness level of your mattress. In turn, a medium-firm topper can help improve the quality of your sleep while reducing the risk of lower back pain.

What mattress toppers do chiropractors recommend?

Many chiropractors recommend mattress toppers made from natural latex or memory foam.

The takeaway.

Back pain can make your nights a struggle—and when you don’t sleep well, the daytime won’t be any easier. If you don’t want to purchase an entirely new mattress, a great firm mattress topper can help improve your lower back pain for a lower cost (and can be a great way to test different firmness levels). If it is combined with a good mattress for neck and back pain, even better!